Book Bites: New Angie Thomas (!!) & More

First things first, everybody. The incredible Angie Thomas, keynote speaker at TeenBookCon 2019, is back this week with her stunning sophomore novel. Friends, it’s every bit as good as The Hate U Give, and it needs to go right to the top of your TBR pile. We don’t care how long it’s been since you were 16, or whether you know the first thing about hip-hop. Trust us when we say that you’re going to fall for Bri Jackson and her story.

Now that that’s taken care of, we’ll show you the rest. For kids, we have a great picture book about an odd little dog and his killer accessories. Beyond that, Texas author Lynne Kelly has written a beautiful middle grade novel that has Katherine Applegate, and many others, singing praises—come see her at the shop on the 9th! The new graphic novel from Jerry Craft is worth your time, especially if you’re into Gene Luen Yang or Raina Telgemeier. (And who isn’t?)

For adults, take your pick: We have a well-drawn piece of historical fiction for fans of The Crown, a collection of short stories straight out of The Twilight Zone, and a multigenerational saga that's perfect if you liked Accordion Crimes or Bel Canto. Whatever you choose, happy reading—we can’t wait to hear what you think.

Ages 4-8

Hats Off to Mr. Pockles by Sally Lloyd-Jones; illustrated by David Litchfield

Mr. Pockles has many wonderful hats for all occasions; more than anything, he wants to wear all of his hats to Hat Day at the PandaPolitan club, but he has only one head and is not a panda. To console himself, he heads to the Treat House and runs into Lady CoCo Fitz-Tulip, a panda in a hurry. When her hat is consumed by baby rabbits, it's up to Mr. Pockles to save the day! A charming story about friendship and clever hats.

READ if you’re looking for something that’s equal parts silly and sweet.
PASS if you think friendship and sharing are overrated. 
Order your copy on our website. 

Ages 8-12

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

Twelve-year old Iris has never been slowed down by her deafness. She loves science and repairing old electronics. Communicating with some of the hearing people at her school can be a problem, however. Whether it's a teacher who talks down to her or an overly helpful classmate, she gets frustrated. When Iris learns about Blue 55, a lonely whale unable to communicate with others, she uses her tech knowledge to figure out a way to talk with the whale. She and her Deaf grandmother then embark on a spur-of-the-moment trip to the West coast to find the whale and see if Iris' idea will truly work. If you enjoyed Out of My Mind or The One and Only Ivan, you'll love this book, too! For grades 4 and up.

READ for a fierce-but-tender story of unexpected connection and making some waves.
PASS?! Look, Cathy doesn’t throw around comps to The One and Only Ivan all willy-nilly. 
Order your copy on our website. 
Meet the author when she visits the shop on February 9!

New Kid by Jerry Craft

When his parents decide to send him to a new school for seventh grade, African-American student Jordan has to confront a whole new world. He's attending an elite private school with great facilities, but few students of color attend, which makes Jordan feel "other" more often than not while he struggles to navigate his new school culture. Craft tells this story with honesty and humor, making this graphic novel an engaging must read for both young and adult readers. For grades 4 and up.

READ if you liked American Born Chinese or Smile.
PASS if you don’t mind missing “one of the most important graphic novels of the year” (Booklist, starred review).
Order your copy on our website. 

Ages 14 & Up

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Brianna is a high school student and aspiring rapper, with the kind of talent for words and rhyme that earns her standing ovations when she performs. When Bri gets the opportunity to record her first single, her anger gets the best of her as she takes lyrical aim at a pair of abusive guards who've recently profiled her and her friends, some of the only black students at her school. 

Bri's loaded single blows up just as her mom loses her job, leaving Bri to navigate the strains of poverty and a complicated mother-daughter relationship, racial stereotyping from the media, and her dream of becoming a hip-hop star. In a story that spins on the power of words and stares down stereotypes, Angie Thomas weaves each sentence into a narrative as nuanced and masterly as her heroine's hip-hop lyrics. Forget the sophomore slump—Angie Thomas did it again. The only thing missing is a soundtrack. 
—Mary Cate

READ this timely, insightful story of a smart and nuanced young woman or risk missing out on a generational classic.
PASS the time until release day (February 5) by re-reading The Hate U Give
Order your copy on our website. 
Meet the author at Teen Book Con on March 30!

Adult Fiction

The Gown by Jennifer Robson

The Gown weaves an engaging story about two young, single, working class women in the mid-1940s who were embroiderers at Hartnell’s, an esteemed design house in London that was charged with making Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. The author describes the embroidery processes and the pressures that would have accompanied this honor. She paints a vivid picture of daily life and social expectations in England immediately following WWII. Themes of friendship, loyalty, religious persecution, and social class are dealt with tenderly. It will appeal to fans of historical fiction, the post-WWII era, and those interested in embroidery or England’s Royal Family.

READ this engrossing historical drama, split between 1947 London and 2016 Toronto, to tide yourself over until season three of The Crown.
PASS if you like to buy up all of H-E-B’s English breakfast tea, then drive to Galveston and dump it into the Gulf on weekends.
Order your copy on our website. 
Meet the author when she visits the shop on February 25!

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin; trans. by Megan McDowell

Rod Serling is lurking somewhere around the pages of this short story collection by award-winning Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin. From the eerie to the bizarre to the clearly absurd, the stories play tricks on one's mind in such a compelling way that one has to keep turning the pages, wondering what strange events will unfold. The title story is literally as it suggests: a family trying to deal with a daughter's addiction to eating small birds whole. There's also a story about a bride abandoned by her groom at a roadside rest stop who discovers a field of hundreds of similarly abandoned women behind the bathroom. There are 20 stories in just over 200 pages, so each one hits you like a brief gust of wind.

READ these well-written but edgy stories and fall under their surreal spell.
PASS if you still have Serling-induced nightmares. (“Don’t get on that ship! It’s… it’s a cookbook!”)
Order your copy on our website. 

The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander

A very special piano is passed down through the generations, leading to multiple stories of love, loss, pain, and joy. From the Soviet Union to Death Valley, California, we follow the lives of people who have connections to the beautiful music played on this one piano. How do we reconcile our histories and the present day? Today, Clara owns the piano. When she suddenly decides to sell it, Greg is determined to buy it, photograph it in Death Valley, and ultimately destroy it. Cander's writing propels you to keep reading to the end. Will Clara make the right decision?

READ if you liked Bel CantoAccordion Crimes, or The Orchardist.
PASS if you've recently been crushed by a falling piano.
Order your copy on our website. 
Meet the author when she visits the shop on February 13!